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Top-Shelf Tip No. 94:

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Winston Churchill

Six Career Lessons That Will Take You Far

With the big "mid-century" birthday looming ahead of me this year, I've finally admitted that I'm on the downward side of my work life. While I still have some significant goals ahead, I wouldn't be where I am today without the lessons I learned early on.

For example, I learned that to provide value, always bring a new idea to a client meeting-one the client is not expecting. I learned to be respectful, but not intimidated, by senior leaders. I learned to be transparent, whether it's good news or bad news. And I learned that a sense of urgency will take you a long way.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these six lessons from seasoned entrepreneur Renzo Costarella.

1. You only live once. Consider this. There are 168 hours in a week; given that you sleep six to eight hours a night and you work 40 hours, that means you are on the job almost 40 percent of the time you are awake each week, including weekends. Don't waste nearly half of your waking hours at a job you hate. It's easy to get stuck in a pattern and convince yourself you that must stay at your job. But when you put it in these terms, is it worth it?

2. Network, network, network. Success is all about the contacts you cultivate. Build rapport and trust with everyone you meet, and never burn a bridge. Jobs and even promotions aren't given to the most qualified individuals—they are given to those who know how to play the game. And playing the game means knowing how to leverage your network.

3. Never have a bad day. While you are going to have bad days, the key is to never let anyone know that you are having one. People are naturally drawn to those who are outwardly happy. If you are always a joy to work with, you will reap the benefits. Most of the time, the promotion will go to the person who makes others around them feel good rather than the person who is better qualified but a pain to work with.

4. Never stop learning. This strategy will give you longevity in your role. If you've been working at a job for 10 years, you have surely mastered your duties, and that means it's time to take on new responsibility. This will help grow your career and serve as motivation to stay engaged. Set some learning goals for yourself and learn a new skill.

5. Step up. Always look for your chance to step up and offer that extra help that will make a difference for you long term. Prepare yourself, and don't hesitate when the time comes.

6. Seek out mentors. Mentors not only teach you, they can advocate for you as well. Many professionals like helping those who are newer to the company. Seek out an older, respectable employee and ask them questions about their career path and development. Associating yourself with a mentor gives you the added "benefit of proximity," meaning you will gain some social capital just by being associated with an older, respected member of the company.

You don't have to be early in your career to implement these key steps. Pick at least two to implement this week.

Source: Renzo Costarella is an entrepreneur, avid learner and startup enthusiast currently living in Silicon Valley. He consults for several startups in the San Francisco Bay area while pursuing a few ideas of his own.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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